The Americans with Disabilities Act and What It Means If You Have Hearing Loss

by Lindsay Robinson, HIA Program Coordinator

July 27, 2022


32 years ago on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. This landmark legislation prevents discrimination of individuals who: have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded, or treated, as if the disability is substantially limiting.


The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), advocated for the ADA to include specifications that protect individuals with hearing loss or who are d/Deaf when in the workplace or carrying out day-to-day activities in public. Here are a few examples of how the law protects individuals with hearing impairment today:


  • Employers with more than 15 employees must provide accommodation to employees who have hearing difficulty, such as providing assistive listening tools in the workplace.
  • Public areas, such as government building or areas of transportation (i.e. airports and trains stations), must provide items like hearing loops for those with hearing loss to better enable communication with desk agents or security personnel.
  • Other public areas such as hospitals, museums, libraries, schools, and police stations must provide assistive services to those with hearing difficulty, such as sign language interpreters or devices and tools that enable the individual to communicate without difficulty.


How do you know if you fall under the population protected by the ADA? The most common definition of disability under ADA is if your hearing loss substantially limits your day-to-day activities or if you have a history of hearing difficulty that has affected life activities in the past.


If you need accommodations for your hearing loss, you can start by writing a request to your school, employer or service provider to identify your disability, the area of ADA that you have protection under (i.e. Title I, Title II, or Title III), identify your problem, and request specific accommodation or ask for accommodation ideas. Attaching medical documents may assist in your request. If you are denied services to accommodate your hearing loss, you can file a complaint on the ADA website.


Additionally, it’s been found that adopting personal hearing devices such as hearing aids or implants can significantly improve your quality of life and can reduce symptoms of isolation, depression, and even cognitive decline. The best first step to treating hearing loss is by visiting a hearing professional to help you understand the cause of your hearing loss and what devices may best benefit your hearing needs. Schedule a consultation with a hearing professional today.

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